Fort Bend ISD goes iPad

I’m guessing stories like this are going to be increasingly common.

[Three Fort Bend ISD campuses], all Title I schools that serve predominantly low-income students, are the launching pad for iAchieve, a school district initiative to create a tablet-based “e-curriculum.”

Instead of simply distributing iPads to students and using educational apps already on the market, Fort Bend officials are building a platform that links on-demand lesson plans, curriculum guidelines, online resources, real-time assessments, interactive simulations, and suggested teaching strategies.

There are also plans to post videos of the district’s master teachers at work in the classroom, which could help younger teachers improve their craft, said Robert Calvert, Fort Bend ISD’s chief information officer.

“All a teacher will have to do is press a button to pull up resources,” Calvert explained. “When that bell rings, the teacher can scroll through her outline of daily lessons. If the students are learning really well, she can expand on activities. If they need more time, she can slow down.”

The primary goal is to use the technology to help raise lagging science scores, increase student engagement and close the equity gap between schools, according to Olwen Herron, Fort Bend’s chief academic officer.

“It’s the perfect partnership of instruction and technology,” said Herron. “iAchieve is not about technology per se. It’s about using technology to impact achievement.”

Although the iAchieve pilot phase is limited to three schools, the program will eventually expand to other schools in the district as well as other subjects, Herron said. It will also be adapted for use on other tablet-type devices.

It’s a differet approach than what McAllen ISD is doing, but it’s the same basic concept, trying to use technology to get better results. And as with McAllen, I’ll be very interested to see how it goes. Also of interest is that FBISD is paying for the devices partly with unused bond funds. Given that HISD is talking about a bond election possibly for this year, that may be something for them to think about, perhaps as a pot-sweetener.

Anyway, as I said I figure we’ll be seeing a lot more of these stories in the coming months. In the meantime, for a more technical view of things go read Frasier Speirs, whom Michael pointed out in the comments to the last post.

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